Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: Forbidden Mind (The Forbidden Trilogy #1) by Karpov Kinrade

Forbidden Mind (Forbidden, #1) 

Book: Forbidden Mind (The Forbidden Trilogy #1)
Author: Karpov Kinrade
Publisher: Daring Books
Rating: 5 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book Review Copy

Summary from Goodreads:
From the award-winning, bestselling author Karpov Kinrade.

49% of Americans believe their government officials are honest. I don't know these officials, or their supporters, but I know their secrets, and 49% of Americans are wrong.

My employers pay me well to be right, to know things others can't. But I don't know why they brought that boy in, strapped to a stretcher, barely conscious. He asked me for help when I could give none.

I'm a wealthy spy, a talented artist, a martial arts black belt, and a prisoner. They tell me that on my eighteenth birthday, I will be released, free to go to the college of my dreams. It's my eighteenth birthday, and a man in black is at my door. I know he's not here to free me.

I know, because I can read minds.

My name is Sam, and this is my story.

So begins the tale of Sam and Drake--from the time they link minds, forging a bond that leads to an unconventional romance--to their fight for survival against the corrupt, twisted organization known as 'Rent-A-Kid.' 

My Review:
Ok so first of all I have to say I LOVED IT! What a fantastic start to what I hope will be an amazing trilogy. This book kept me up late at night reading and I had it read in a couple of days which is really fast for me.

Sam is not your typical teenage girl. She is a seventeen year old that can read minds. She has lived within an organization that she calls "Rent a Kid". All the kids here have some kind of paranormal power. Since she was about twelve she has been sent on jobs to spy and gather information for the rich clients that have hired her. When she finishes this "job" she thinks that it will be her last. You see when you turn eighteen you get to leave "Rent a Kid" and go live your life where and how you want. Or so they have been told.

When Sam returns from her latest "job" she sees a teenage boy, Drake, strapped down to a bed. He speaks to her mind telepathically. He asks for her help. Drake did not grow up at "Rent a Kid" but he does have a paranormal power, he can control people and things with his mind. Sam was not supposed to see or know about Drake. They form a two way mind connection and stay in touch this way. They also fall in love even though they have never really met in person yet. Drake has been and is continuing to be drugged so that he cannot use his mind control power. Sam starts to wonder if he did something wrong and that is why he is being drugged and not able to use his power. But when she talks to her best friends, twins Lucy and Luke she gets another idea. Is something more sinister going on at "Rent a Kid"?

When Sam turns eighteen things start spiraling out of control. I was loving the story from the beginning but when Sam turns eighteen things start to get really interesting. There are so many twists and I honestly did not know what was going to happen next. It is not predictable at all. I am not going to give any spoilers away but let me tell you this is a must read. I highly recommend it, you will not be disappointed! This e-book was provided to me for review. This did not affect my review in any way. 

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Awakening of Leeowyn Blake (The Kahl'Nar Saga #1) by Mary Parker

The Awakening of Leeowyn Blake 

Book: The Awakening of Leeowyn Blake (The Kahl'Nar Saga #1)
Author: Mary Parker
Publisher: WordCrafts Press
Rating: 5 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book Review Copy

Summary from Goodreads:
 I'm a normal teenager. I have a normal teenage life with normal teenage problems.
The summer is my heaven. I live with my mom during the summer months. We stay in her tiny condo in Jacksonville, Florida. My parents split up when I was little. I'm not sure why. My mom never talks about it. Whatever it was, it was bad enough to make my mom pack me up in the middle of the night when I was four years old and run to my Gran's condo.
My mom got the condo after Gran died. From that time on all I had known my entire life was beach life.
Until four years ago.
Until my uncle found me.

My Review:
This book was one of the best that I have read in awhile. I knew when I read the summary that I was interested. I had no idea just how much I would end up loving it though.

When we first meet Leeowyn aka Lee, she is a 14 year old girl living with her single mom in Florida. She has never really known her dad because her mom took her and left at a very early age. They never talk about him. Then one day her Uncle Cycle (her dad's brother) shows up and tells her that he wants her to spend the winters at his house with him and her grandmother. While she finds this strange she lives with him during the winter for the next four years.

Every year she knows things are somewhat off and everyone acts strange but she just can't put her finger on it. Then when she is about to turn 18 her boyfriend Alex shows up at her Uncle's and stays there. Lee's best friend Peach and her Uncle are not happy to see Alex. When he tells Lee what is really going on Peach just comes along and erases her memory of anything that he has told her. You see Lee is a very powerful guardian and will become the guardian of the realms when she turns 18. On her 18th birthday is when everything starts getting really interesting and fun. She has no idea that she will soon be the only one that can save the realms from a very powerful evil.

I loved the plot and the characters so much. This was a well written story with so many twists and turns that I couldn't keep up. I read every chance I got and didn't want to put it down when I had to. I loved the ending and the answer that Lee gave. I am truly excited to find out what happens next! 
 
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Friday, December 4, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday

Book Blogger Hop 

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read

 

Question of the week: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

 I love mint chocolate chip!  I also really like cookies & cream. 

 

 

 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: Borrowed Heart (Book One of the Evie Sanders Series) by Linda Lamberson

Borrowed Heart (Evie Sanders, #1) 

Book: Borrowed Heart (Book One of the Evie Sanders Series)
Author: Linda Lamberson
Publisher: Linda Lamberson
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: Signed Paperback Review Copy

Summary from Goodreads: 
Can love survive in a world where death is just the beginning and demons are hunting your true soul mate? Read Lamberson’s debut novel in her nationally recognized romance series to find out how Evie and Quinn's story begins.

"It is a very strong love story that defines what the word 'soul-mate' means ... It's not so much about what happens after death as it is about how far love and a heart can reach." —Reviewers Helping Authors on Amazon and Goodreads

"Lamberson does a fantastic job weaving a fated love-story. She took her idea of ‘what-if’ and has created a fantastic answer." —Kathy LaMee for Tracy Riva Books and Reviews on Goodreads

Lamberson's debut novel, Borrowed Heart, was a finalist in the 2012 National Indie Excellence Awards in the romance category.

"BORROWED HEART" —

Evie Sanders is good at heeding that gnawing feeling she gets when trouble rears its head—or at least she used to be. Things change when she meets Quinn Harrison. Evie would never intentionally hurt her long-distance boyfriend or jeopardize their relationship, but she finds it difficult to resist Quinn. Just when things can’t seem to get more complicated, she’s involved in a fatal car accident. Yet, her death marks a new beginning—and her new existence as an immortal. It’s not long before Evie and Quinn’s paths cross again, and she finds herself walking a fine line between bending the rules she must now obey and breaking them.

Read the entire series to see how Evie and Quinn's story begins and ends!
—Borrowed Heart (#1)
—Peace of Mind (#2)
—Soul to Shepherd (#3)

My Review:
Borrowed Heart is a rollarcoaster ride of emotions and romance. It will drawn you right from the start and leave you wanting more at the end.

Eve, or Evie as her friends call her is just a normal college student. She has a boyfriend from high school Ryan who attends a different collage. Things are going fine until she meets Quinn in one of her classes. He is gorgeous and very persistent. After a kiss between Evie and Quinn one night at party Evie decides she needs to tell Ryan in person what happened and her feelings for Quinn. That is the night that will change her life forever.

Evie is tragically killed in a car accident. When she awakens she is greeted by Peter. He tells her that she is dead and is a Shepard, someone who watches over and protects human or as they call them, charges. Evie cannot believe that she is dead and wants answers. Peter starts to explain what a Shepard is and all the rules that go along with it. All of Evie's memories of her life are gone. She is not allowed to find anything out. While on assignment protecting a charge you are not allowed to reveal yourself to them either. There are too many other rules to list. Evie has only just started her training when she finds out that she is being assigned to a charge immediately.

When she arrives back on Earth to start her assignment her charge who just happens to be Quinn, can "feel" or sense her. He knows that Evie has somehow returned. This is where the story started getting really interesting to me. Evie starts breaking the rules starting with revealing herself to Quinn. She can go from invisible to materializing into a human like being with all her cool powers. As they start to rekindle their forbidden romance they have no idea what danger is in store for them. Evie doesn't realize that she is not only putting Quinn in more danger but herself also. The Servants, evil other worldly beings will do anything to keep them apart.

I loved the chemistry between Quinn and Evie. Their relationship is so emotional with all the ups and downs. Quinn wants to be a normal couple but Evie knows that she has to stick to her assignment to protect Quinn while trying to follow the rules. She struggles big time with this and it makes for a really great story. The ending was bitter sweet for me and a bit of a cliffhanger. I am looking forward to the sequel and the rest of this series. This book was provided to me for review. This did not affect my review in any way.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: Cursed (The Touch #1) by S.A. Archer & S. Ravynheart

Cursed (Touched, #1) 

Book: Cursed (The Touch #1)
Author: S.A. Archer & S. Ravynheart
Publisher: Ravynheart Publishing
Rating: 3 Stars
Level: Adult
Source: e-book Review Copy

Summary from Goodreads: 
As a private investigator specializing in paranormal problems, London Eyer thought she could handle working for the Sidhe. They couldn’t be any worse than vampires or werewolves or wizards, could they? Oh, how wrong she was. One ‘Touch’ of Sidhe magic and she was cursed. Her only chance to survive is to serve the creep that cursed her against the vicious Changelings out for his blood. 

My Review:
Cursed is a novella and is a quick read. It is filled with action, suspense and romance. The reader is given just enough information to keep you reading without giving too much away.

London is a human and also a private investigator for the paranormal. Her best friend Selena is a vampire. London has a meeting with a new potential client, Rico, a Sidhe. When she arrives she realizes that her friend Selena is making a meal out of him. She assumes this will be an easy assignment. It's only when Rico "touches" London that she realizes that this new job may not be as easy as she thinks. She needs to find the changlelings that Rico is looking for fast so she can break the curse of "the touch" before she goes crazy.

I liked London, she is a kick butt character who is also feisty. I liked the novella but didn't love it. I would have liked to known more about the characters and just more to the story itself. Overall a quick likable read. This e-book was provided to me for review. This did not affect my review in any way. 

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Review: True Faces (A Ciara Steele Novella #1) by Catherine Banks

True Faces (Ciara Steele Novella Series, #1) 

Book: True Faces (A Ciara Steele Novella #1)
Author: Catherine Banks
Publisher: Catherine Banks
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Adult
Source: e-book Review Copy

Summary from Goodreads: 
Vampires, Werewolves, and Werebears, Oh my! Ciara Steele's life is far from normal and it gets even more complicated when she receives a promotion at work. Her ability to See people is somehow common knowledge and not everyone is happy that she can See them. She is faced with one of the toughest decisions of her life as her future is offered on the head of the man she loves.

My Review: 
True Faces is a short story/novella that kept my attention until the very end.

Ciara is a Seer and can "See" wereanimals, vampires, werewolves, etc. with her third eye. It is not a physical eye but she is able to "See" through the glamour of other creatures. She is training with Aiko, her dojo sensi to learn to control it.

She also is a legal secretary that works for a lawyer firm. When she gets a promotion to be a secretary on the first floor she is a bit nervous. The first floor is where all of the wereanimals work. Things look up though when she meets the new hot lawyer she will be working for, Mr. Eric Wolfe.

When she starts working for him she has closed her third eye and refuses to open it. So she thinks that he is just a normal human. But it's not long that she starts to realize that he may not be who he seems. He owns a nightclub and the people that work for him and that go there seem to all know that Ciara is a Seer. While Cira and Eric are attracted to each other, Ciara has a hard time letting her feelings show. She doesn't want something bad to happen to Eric. It seems that every time she turns around someone or something is after her. Will she let her feelings for Eric be known and will both of their lives be in danger?

While this is a short story it has a lot of action and romance packed into it. The ending leaves the reader with a cliffhanger that happens very fast. I really enjoyed reading it and will continue with this series. I just wish that it would have been longer, I really liked the characters. This e-book was provided to me for review. This did not affect my review in any way. 

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: The Burn (The Burn #1) by Annie Oldham

The Burn 

Book: The Burn (The Burn #1)
Author: Annie Oldham
Publisher: Annie Oldham
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book Review Copy

Summary from Goodreads:
The Burn is full of nuclear fallout, roving gangs, anarchy, unreliable plumbing. That's what Terra's father tells her. She has lived her whole life in comfort in a colony at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. She hates it. And she would pay any price to leave. But when Terra finally escapes the colony, she finds out her father is right.

She finds a group of survivors that quickly become friends, and every day with them is a race for survival. When she witnesses and commits unspeakable acts, she has to decide where her loyalty lies: with the colony she despises or The Burn, where every day is filled with nightmares.

My Review:
The Burn is a dystopian that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

To what once was the United States is now New America (aka The Burn) a hundred years after The Event. People will do anything to survive and it is illegal to have a gun or live outside of the government controlled cities. Medical supplies and food are given out once a month and people will fight or even kill to get some. Everyone has a tracker put inside their arm/wrist so they can be tracked by the government.

Under the ocean is an entirely different world, The Colonies. They were formed by scientists after The Event. People up on The Burn just know The Colonies as stories. This is where we first meet Terra. She does not like living below the ocean where everything is controlled. She learns about The Burn in school from her teacher Mr. Klein. She has always dreamed of what it would be like to live on land where she could do what she wants. Her family and friends think she is crazy to be thinking this way. She will make a huge sacrifice to leave The Colonies.

Once on The Burn she saves someone's life. She also quickly finds out how people really live on The Burn and just how dangerous life here is. Terra is taken in by a group of people who live outside the cities hidden inside of an old abandoned school. While some trust her many do not. She must learn to adapt to life here fast or risk being captured and put in a work camp or ending up dead.

The story was well written, descriptive but not overdone and the characters were as likable as they could be due to their circumstances. Terra's sacrifice to leave The Colonies for The Burn was really gross to me and made my stomach turn. I was glad when that scene was over. The story is fast paced with lots of action and suspense. There is twist at the end that leaves the reader wanting to know what is going to happen next. I know I do! This e-book was provided to me for review. This did not affect my review in any way. 
 
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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Review: The Eternal Child by David Wasserman

The Eternal Child 

Book: The Eternal Child
Author: David Wasserman
Publisher: Outskirts Press 
Rating: 4 Stars
Level:  Young Adult
Source: Signed Paperback Review Copy

Summary from Goodreads:
For centuries, Alex Montera has led a life of running and hiding. That all changes when he comes to the rescue of Iris Lisant

My Review:
The Eternal Child was a fun, lighthearted vampire novel. It was fast paced with lots of action, some romance and great friendship.

Alex has been a vampire for many, many years and has had a bounty of his head for most of that time. Many things have changed in his life over the years. Some good, some bad. One night he saves a human girl, Iris and that changes the course of his life once again. It's from then on that Alex and Iris are drawn to each other.

I enjoyed their relationship and how it took some time to develop. I really liked their friends and their day to day banter. At the same time we can't forget that there are many others after Alex and that includes them coming after Alex's friends.

The plot was good and the story was well written. There was some inconsistency and some of the scenes were a little over descriptive for me. Other than that it was really good and I enjoyed reading it. The ending had a cliffhanger that I did not see coming at all. It really through a twist into the story and then it ended with to be continued. I am hoping that there will be a sequel sometime soon.

This book was provided to me for review. This did not effect my review in any way. 
 
Connect with the author: Goodreads  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Author Interview & Giveaway: Marc Johnson



*Giveaway has ended.  *
Congratulations to Brigman, you are the winner!

Please welcome author Marc Johnson to Fantasy Book Chick 

Marc is the author of one of my favorite fantasy series:
The Passage of Hellsfire


Author Interview Questions

Tell us a little about yourself...

I’m a man who can barely keep up with his own thoughts and whose mind is never in the present.

What do you enjoy doing when not writing?

I read a lot, watch way too much TV and movies, and I also spend a lot of time gaming—board and card gaming mostly. Every weekend, I seem to be a tournament of some sort. While I’m not as good as I used to be because I’m old now, I do enjoy the social aspect of playing games with friends, and I love competing and winning!

When did you begin writing?

I was about 7 or 8 when I began writing. One of my earliest stories was basically The Adventures of Milo & Otis except it was about my turtle who had ran away. Long, sad story.

Do you listen to music, drink coffee, etc. while writing?

Sometimes I’ll listen to music when I’m writing. More often than not, I’m watching TV while I write. And by watching, I mean, listening. And by listening, I mean, it’s on in the background and only if it’s a good or interesting show do I actually pay attention to it.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Not very long. Maybe two to four months. Of course, editing is what takes me forever. I have to get it right. You should see the early drafts of some of my books. They’re terrible. But I’ll take as long as needed to get the story right. That’s all that matters to me.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Dreams. All my story ideas come from the dreams I have, which considering stories I’ve written, and plan to write, seems a bit strange. I have an uncanny ability to retain my dreams and control them if I want to. Thanks Kruger for terrorizing me when I was a kid!

What book are you currently reading, just finished reading or going to read next?

One of the books I’m currently reading is Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance. It’s good, although I much prefer the first book more, and his other works like the Mistborn trilogy and Warbreaker are much better.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

In no particular order, Kevin J. Anderson, Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Jim Butcher, Sophie Kinsella. I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

Why did you choose to write this genre?

I never think about the genre I choose to write in. I have an idea for a story and then I write. It’s only afterwards do I try to think about the genre it can fit in.

Do you design your own book covers or is there someone that designs them for you?

I currently use Deranged Doctor Design for the covers of my book. I recently went to them after my former cover artist quit doing covers. I completely revamped the covers of my books when I did so. I give them ideas and have the power of veto but it’s all them.

If you could be any paranormal or have a supernatural talent what would it be and why?

I don’t know if it’s a supernatural talent, but if I could, I would have the power of flight. Whether it be with wings, some kind of anti-gravity force, magnetic pushing, or telekinesis, it doesn’t matter to me. It would be the most fun thing I could do and it’s the only ability I could have that wouldn’t corrupt me.

Tell us a little bit about your book or books…

My main work is a young adult, fantasy series called The Passage of Hellsfire. It’s an adventure with magic, romance, and destiny.

Can you tell us a little about the main character or characters in your latest book?

In my latest book, Reawakening, Hellsfire is juggling multiple things. He’s trying to find a cure for the princess, defeat his old enemy, and work together with the wizard council so that there isn’t another war. It’s a lot of responsibility for a young man to handle, and it’s beginning to take its toll on him. Luckily, he’s not alone.

What other projects are you working on or have coming out next?

As I usually do after writing a The Passage of Hellsfire novel, I’m going to take a break and write another short story/novella. It’s about a young woman who can slip inside bodies and take control of them. She has a bit of fun and some good intentions, but things start to turn ugly.

Tell us why readers will enjoy reading your book...

If they want to go on an adventure full of wonder, magic, fun, hope, romance, and determination, they will enjoy it, and be in for quite a ride.

Where can readers purchase your book or books from?

They can purchase it from whatever’s easiest for them.

AMAZON:  http://www.amazon.com/Marc-Johnson/e/B009MIKSQC/

APPLE: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/catalyst-the-passage-hellsfire/id433441668?mt=11

BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Marc+Johnson+hellsfire?fs=0&_requestid=745957

KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?query=Marc%20Johnson&fcsearchfield=Author&fclanguages=all

SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/marcjohnson

Are you on social media?  If so where can readers connect with you and your books?

I’m in the air, everywhere!

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/MarcJohnsonAuthor
GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/marcjohnson
TWITCH: http://www.twitch.tv/deusface
TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/hellsfire
WEBSITE: http://www.marcanthonyjohnson.com

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!
 Catalyst (The Passage of Hellsfire, #1)What Once Was One (The Passage of Hellsfire, #2)Reawakening (The Passage of Hellsfire, Book 3)

One winner will receive the first three books (e-books) in the series.
**Open internationally**


One winner will receive the first two books (print books) in the series.
**Open to the Unites States Only**

To enter all you need to do is leave a comment.  Please include your email address and if you live in the United States or International.   

The winners will be chosen and an email will be sent to notify the winners that they have won.  The author Marc Johnson will contact the winners for any additional information  (where to send e-books or print books). 

*Giveaway ends September 28, 2015*

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Review: Girl Steals Guy (Borrowing Abby Grace #2) by Kelly Green

Girl Steals Guy (Borrowing Abby Grace, #2) 

Book: Girl Steals Guy (Borrowing Abby Grace #2)
Author: Kelly Green
Publisher: Backlit Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book (downloaded - free promotion awhile back)

Summary from Goodreads:
Smart and sassy Abby Grace is a seventeen-year-old with a talent for getting out of trouble. Sent to repair the lives and loves of teenagers on the edge of disaster, Abby is the perfect girl for the job. She has everything going for her… except one thing: a body. 

Girl Steals Guy: Borrowing Abby Grace, Episode 2

Dropped into the life of a gorgeous senior with a heartbroken best friend, Abby Grace must navigate high school keg parties, football games and power couples as she discovers that love and revenge are sometimes the same thing. 

My Review: 
Girl Steals Guy is the second installment in the Borrowing Abby Grace series. I enjoyed it just as much or maybe a little more than the first one. The author has a way of keeping you hooked and guessing until the end.

In this one Abby finds herself in Michelle's body and life. She thinks she must reunite her best friend Heather and her boyfriend Sam. At first I had the same thoughts as Abby/Michelle that Sam is just a jerk quarterback football player. But as the story went on I came to realize that things are not always what they seem. Every time I thought I knew what Abby's real mission was the author put a new twist and the story changed again. I did not see the ending coming and what the real reason Abby was there for.

I really am enjoying this series and they are so quick to read. I loved that Abby got rewarded with a memory from her real life. I hope to get more background on Abby and Will in future installments. I am looking forward to reading more stories from this author.
 

Connect with the author: Goodreads  Facebook  Twitter  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: The Shadow (Borrowing Abby Grace #1) by Kelly Green

The Shadow (Borrowing Abby Grace, #1) 

Book: The Shadow (Borrowing Abby Grace)
Author: Kelly Green
Publisher: Backlit
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book (downloaded - free promotion awhile back)

Summary from Goodreads:
Smart and sassy Abby Grace is a seventeen-year-old with a talent for getting out of trouble. Sent to repair the lives and loves of teenagers on the edge of disaster, Abby is the perfect girl for the job. She has everything going for her… except one thing: a body.

This fast-paced and exciting episode is the first installment in an ongoing mystery series with a supernatural twist.

Episode 1

When Abby Grace wakes up in the back of a van, she has no idea who she is, how she got there, or why anyone would want to kidnap her. After escaping her masked captors, she hurries home, only to discover that she unknowingly left her younger brother behind in the van. Unable to answer the police’s questions with her memories gone, she retreats to the safety of her bedroom where she tries to reconstruct her life. Just as she is settling into the belief that things will one day return to normal, she looks in the mirror—and sees a stranger’s face.
As Abby learns next, she has become a Shadow, sent to inhabit the lives of strangers in trouble. With nothing to go on except the vague hints of her cute but maddening Guardian, a 19th century ghostly teenager named Will, Abby sets out to rescue the missing brother. But she will need all of her intelligence, fearlessness, and wit, because if she fails to find him in time, she will remain trapped in this unfamiliar body forever.

My Review:
The Shadow is a short, fast and exciting read. It is a bit of mystery with a supernatural twist. The story flows along at a great pace and gives the reader unexpected twists and turns.

Abby wakes up to find herself in the back of a van with strangers. She also can't remember who she is. When she realizes she has been kidnapped she makes a quick escape out the back. Once the police take her home her father wants to know where her brother Paul is. It's not long before she meets Will and finds out that she is a shadow. She takes over bodies to help the person fix a problem in their life. Abby has taken over Brooke's body and life in this first installment. She thinks this will be easy, just find Paul and maybe she can go back to being Abby, whoever that may be.

The author did a great job of keeping me on the edge of my seat with all the mystery and suspense. I was shocked when the story came to a close. I was way off track of what I thought was going on with the plot. I loved it, it was not predictable at all. But really exciting and unique. I have already started reading the second book because I had to know what happened to Abby next. Readers that love mystery and/or supernatural elements will enjoy this series. 

Connect with the author: Goodreads  Facebook  Twitter 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: Hallowed (Waters Dark and Deep #1) by Monica Leonelle

Hallowed (Waters Dark and Deep #1) 
Book: Hallowed (Waters Dark and Deep #1)
Author: Monica Leonelle
Publisher: Spaulding House 
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book review copy

Summary from Goodreads:
The van Rossum siblings have lost their mother, but little do they know that all her secrets died with her.

Secrets about her magical origins. Secrets that could get them killed.

Brie van Rossum has always been the baby of the family, until she discovers that she is a Hallow, a descendant of humans and archangels. Oh, and that everything her mother has ever told her is a lie. Now, she has to protect her family and there is no room for error; if she makes a single mistake she could lose everything, including the people she loves. But the people who claim they can help her have their own motives, and she has no idea who to trust as she navigates her new reality.

Pilot van Rossum feels like his life is spinning out of control. His mother has passed away recently, his family is constantly hounded by the media, and he can’t figure out how to control his younger sister. He turns to a beautiful stranger for solace and quickly becomes wrapped up in her world. But she has her own demons, demons that threaten to come between them unless Pilot can change her mind.

A broken family, a deadly secret, an impossible romance… Hallowed is the first book in Waters Dark and Deep, a sexy new young adult urban fantasy series by Monica Leonelle (recommended for mature teens 14+).

This short novel is 47,500 words (roughly 225 printed pages).

My Review: 
Hallowed is a fast, fun and well written story. I was pulled in right from the beginning and was left wanting more when I finished reading it.

Brie and her brother Pilot move to Hawaii to live with their rock star dad after their mom is killed in a plane crash. Brie is struggling with making friends, her relationship with her dad, dodging the paparazzi and when finding out that she is a Hallow. She is not just any Hallow though, she is a powerful one. Pilot has his own issues, trying to keep Brie out of trouble and his feelings toward a girl named Kennedy. It doesn't take long before things start getting out of control. Once others, both good and evil find out what Brie is it seems everyone is after her.

The story is told from different view points which I liked. The author did a great job setting up the scenes and giving the reader just enough without giving too much away. It was so good that I didn't want to put it down. I would recommend this young adult fantasy readers. I really enjoyed it and am excited to find out what is in store for rest of the series. This e-book was provided to me for review. This did not affect my review in any other way.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review: Pisces (Zodiac Twin Flames #1) by Rachel Medhurst

Pisces by Rachel Medhurst 

Book: Pisces (Zodiac Twin Flames #1)
Author: Rachel Medhurst
Publisher: CreateSpace
Level: Young Adult
Source: Paperback - Won @  ReadAways

Summary from Goodreads:
The bracelet around my wrist was a permanent reminder of my mission. The silver charm that was attached to the leather cord was stamped with my birth sign. Mission: Unite with my twin flame soulmate in this lifetime.

My brothers, sisters, and I were each named after the star sign we were born under. We knew that our soul purpose was to fall madly in love and battle through the obstacles that led to that true love.

Antony crept up on me and caught me unaware. He was nothing like I'd imagined my twin flame soulmate to be. When he started to run, I found that I had to give chase. I had to complete my mission.


My Review:
Pisces is the first book in the Zodiac Twin Flames series. It was a fast read and I liked it.

Pisces and her siblings have agreed to come to Earth to find their twin flame soulmates. Their mission is to find their soulmate and bring true love to Earth. There are a group of people, the Dysfunctionals, that have tried to stop them for many lifetimes. Pisces has no idea at first who her twin flame soulmate is but she intends to find out and make it last this time.

The book has a good story line but for me it just didn't live up to what I thought it was going to be. Every time Pisces starts to get close to Antony he leaves and wants nothing to do with her. Then when he starts to show interest she runs away. There were some other things that just kept happening over and over again. It was just a bit too much of this off and on throughout the story.

We get a little bit of background information but I would have liked to learned more about the characters. By the end we are left with lots of answered questions. It felt a bit rushed at times and it seemed like it was all tied up quickly but not really finished by the end.

All this said I did enjoy it and it was a fun, fast read. I would like to read the next book in this series. I am hoping that some of my issues with this book are fixed by the next book. This book was won in a giveaway. This did not affect my review in any way. 


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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Reawakening (The Passage Of Hellsfire #3) By Marc Johnson

Reawakening by Marc   Johnson 

Book: Reawakening (The Passage Of Hellsfire #3)
Author: Marc Johnson
Publisher:  Longshot Publishing 
Rating: 5 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book review copy

Summary from Goodreads:
To undo a mistake made a thousand years in the past, the wizard Hellsfire used his magic to bring down the Great Barrier that once divided the northern and southern lands. In doing so, he nearly brought war to his own homeland, and he afflicted the love of his life, Princess Krystal of Alexandria, with a potent and deadly curse.

Since then, Hellsfire has been working in Tyree with its Elemental Council, to rebuild its war-torn land and find a way to break Krystal’s curse. Now Krystal’s time is running out. As the princess fights for her life, Hellsfire learns that the wizard responsible for the curse—his old enemy Premier—is heading to the Burning Sands to steal the mysterious Jewel of Dakara.

If Hellsfire can capture Premier and learn the secret of the curse, he can save Krystal. But the Jewel of Dakara holds its own deadly secrets, and the hunt will take Hellsfire farther than he ever imagined, and cost him more than he bargained for.

The past is never gone nor buried... 

My Review:
Reawakening was definitely worth the wait. It is by far the best and my favorite of this series so far. I was on the edge of my seat from the beginning to the end. The author brought so much more to this story and the characters.

Hellsfire and some friends travel to the Burning Sands to try to find Premier and a cure for Princess Krystal. What they find is so much more. From learning about ancient demons to a realm of fairies, Hellsfire has a lot to deal with. He needs to find a cure for Krystal, capture Premier and defeat an ancient, powerful demon. All the while try to figure out ancient runes, survive in the Netherrealm and keep himself and his friends alive.

There is so much excitement that goes on within this story. While it is emotional, suspenseful and full of action, it is so much fun to read. I kept thinking what an incredible adventure Hellsfire is on. But then I thought well I don't think he would see it as an adventure but more as survival. For the reader it is one awesome ride. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next the story would take a sharp turn. The author keeps you on your toes, you never know what is going to happen next.

There are so many new characters along with ones from the previous books that I really like. There are so many new things happening. The last part of the book the author throws a major curve ball into the story. I loved reading it and am looking forward to the coming books in this series! This e-book was provide to me for review. This did not affect my review in any way.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Guest Post, Chapter Reveal & Short Story By Mike Phillips


C:\Users\Mike\Documents\A Phillips 2015-08-01\CA Novel Manuscripts\Chronicles of the GOBLIN KING\GK02 HAZARD of SHADOWS -Chronicals of the Goblin King II\2015 GK02_HS Promotions\HazardofShadows_CoverArt.jpg
 
General Information:                                                                            
Author Website:                                  http://mikephillipsfantasy.com

Hazard of Shadows: Chronicles of the Goblin King Book Two
Trailer:                   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3OTx7QB_eI

The World Below: Chronicles of the Goblin King Book One     

Dawn of Ages                       

Reign of the Nightmare Prince



Hazard of Shadows Excerpt One:                                                                

Hazard of Shadows
Chronicles of the Goblin King: Book Two

By Mike Phillips
7,500 Words

Excerpt One: Call It a Rescue

The woman was tall and lean. Her body was built for power and speed, her stride confident and even. Each step was smooth, causing as little jarring to her knees as a wheel turning on a roadway. Her arms pumped in rhythm with her steps, not as an afterthought but pressing her forward; as integral a part of the activity as the taking of breath. She was a runner but she moved with the grace no dancer had ever achieved.
Leaving little for modesty, her shorts and top accentuated every line and curve of her body. The play of muscle as she ran was as visible under its silken cover as though it were her own skin. Every anatomical detail in calve and thigh, buttock and back, stomach and shoulder bore witness to her physical perfection as first a hundred yards, then two hundred, then a quarter mile were left behind her.
Like every morning as the sun spilled over the horizon, the woman parked her car at a neighborhood playground. She stretched out on the monkey bars, doing pull-ups and squats, testing her agility against the park’s usual clientele on the steel bars. There was a playhouse built to look like a train. It was only an engine and two cars, but it allowed her to teach her well-toned muscles flexibility of movement as well as any yoga class. She leapt over and under the engine, jumped the sides of the cars, dove through the windows only to hit the ground and tumble back to her feet.
When finished with her unique calisthenics, she pointed herself toward the bay and took off at a fast jog. A paved trail ran along the edge of the park. Her shoes still damp from the morning dew, she ran alongside the strip of asphalt on well packed earth. The trail crossed the street and followed the river under the state highway.
Little did she know that even then she was being watched. Little did she know that she was being singled out as prey.
When she appeared from under the highway, she was on the eastern edge of Clinch Park; a strip of little developed public beach in the heart of downtown. At the old cottonwood tree, the paved trail left the river and she was on her way. The trail followed Grand Traverse Bay. This sheltered portion of Lake Michigan stretched farther than the eye could see, larger than many bodies of water that were given the title of lake.
The view of the rising sun was spectacular. She didn’t notice. She was building up speed. Her muscles were heating nicely and soon she would begin to pour it on.
By the time she reached the end of the east beach and the trail led her between the public marina and the small zoo, she had reached her full stride. This was the part she enjoyed. This was why she ran, for nothing more or less than the complete physicality. She was totally immersed, every thought and action finely tuned to bring her to this penultimate moment.
The woman ran with single-mindedness few embracing the sport ever achieved. She didn’t bring a water bottle, though the morning was already hot. Her phone was locked safely in the glove box of her car. A single key was laced and tied onto her right shoe, set in a plastic cover and wedged between the laces so it never moved. Thick and lustrous as any thoroughbred’s, her mane of black hair was pulled back with the only luxury she allowed, a thick band of cloth that would keep her from rubbing the sweat from her eyes.
Before she even realized it, she had passed the volleyball courts and was coming to the crosswalk. Here the trail left the bay and crossed the state road, continuing all the way to Greilickville on the boulevard. Increasing her speed, she came to the crosswalk just as the light turned red. She vaulted onto the right of way, crossed four lanes of traffic, and hit the other side even before the first car came to a complete stop.
At the little grocery store parking lot, she paused to stretch, feeling loss to know she was already half finished. When the light turned, she began the return trip. At the end of the boulevard, she timed the light so she need not disrupt her pace. Leaving the trail, she headed toward the bay. This last part of her run would be finished on the beach.
Under her feet, the sands were churned as fine as sugar. It made for a slippery footing. With every step, her ankles and knees and hips had to adjust. The unusual motion caused her muscles to burn, to challenge her body in a whole new way. Fighting to keep her pace, she pumped her arms and legs even harder and triumphed over this new obstacle.
When she passed the volleyball courts, the beach was quickly coming to an end. On a manmade spit of land reaching out into the bay was the public marina. Steel pilings an inch thick kept the endless torrent of summer waves and winter ice from washing it away. The place where marina and beach merged, a large pile of stones marked the transition.
Not missing a stride, she extended her foot and struck the first stone at full speed. It was large and heavy, ten times as big as she was, and it didn’t even tremble under her weight. From the first stone to the next she went. This stone too was bigger than she and did not yield as she passed to the next. Half way up the pile of rocks and she could clearly feel instinctually every stride she would take; the speed and placement of every step that would bring her to the top.
Confidence building, she increased her speed, extending her left leg so far she could feel the muscles tense. But when she looked down, there was nowhere to set her foot. Blackness, a giant hole opened up before her eyes. She could not stop. Her momentum was too great. The hole seemed to open like the hungry maw of some great beast before her eyes. In one gulp, it swallowed her whole.
#
Before she remembered what happened, the runner heard voices. Somewhere in the psychotropic haze and the deep recesses of her dulled mind, warning bells were ringing. They were telling her to run away, run harder than she had ever run before. Something bad had happened to her, though at the moment she could only vaguely remember what that was. The warning bells were ringing, but they were far away and becoming less and less a concern.
The voices sounded strange. She could comprehend the pace and cadence of speech, though the language might have been Eastern European if not for the occasional sounds her mind could not explain. Those sounds were guttural, almost like the bleating of farm animals. If not for the interplay of voices, she would have sworn she was in a barn with sheep, or was it goats?
Little by little she became aware of what was going on around her. She was seated in a chair; the metal frame cold on her skin. Rough cloth bound her wrists, arms, ankles, and legs. Her throat was dry. But these physical sensations were distant, secondary to the spectacle of light and pleasure in her mind.
When she tried to open her eyes, everything was a blur. She saw flickering shapes. Demons manifested and dispersed before her eyes. They danced in shades of red and yellow; joining in lurid postures before merging into a greater whole. Surrounding her, the demons stuck their pitchforks at her breasts, her legs, her buttocks and her womanhood. They tried to put their dirty fingers in her mouth and ears and eyes. She shook her head to knock them away, but nothing worked. They only laughed. Desperate to fight them off, she screamed.
The voices went silent. The last of their echoes died.
Only cowed for an instant by her ferocity, the demons came back. Pulling at the bands that strapped her wrists, she struggled to fight them. She kicked so hard with her athletic legs that she knocked the chair over. She screamed again as she fell onto her back. Now everywhere she looked demons, demons, demons of fire.
Like the bleating of lambs, she thought she heard laughter. Afraid, she froze, holding her breath. Something large stepped up behind her and looked down. The thing had the body of a man. His legs and arms were thick with muscle. Showing off his physique, he wore only a loincloth. It looked like a red and white striped, extra fluffy, beach towel. A woman’s belt, leather painted a bright gold and a belt buckle the size of a hubcap with a stone figure of a bull rider, was strapped around the beach towel to keep it from falling down.
Intrigued, the runner looked up from the belt buckle, eyed the rippled midsection and swollen chest, and expected to find some handsome cowboy come to rescue her. What she saw was no comfort. It wasn’t even human.
Atop the creature’s broad shoulders was the head of a goat. Big, blue eyes bulged in their sockets. A black nose ran with slime, thick and green, down its snout into a mouth filled with crooked yellow teeth. Worst of all, its head was crowned with curling horns, jutting forward like daggers.
“No, no,” the runner screamed, “the devil, not the devil! Save me lord, forgive me!”
The devil only bleated like a child, taking hold of the chair behind her head and jerking her upward. She was righted once again.
“Stay put,” the goat devil said. “We needs you in good order but not too good, see?”
“Yes,” the runner replied weakly, surprised she could understand what was being said. Sufficiently intimated, she was too afraid to ask questions.
“Right, drink some of this.”
The goat devil reached behind his back and pulled out a bag. Momentarily confused, the runner blinked her eyes. The bag was purple. It was a Coach bag. She loved Coach bags. The style had gone out a year or two ago. The goat devil fumbled with the clasp. With a closer look, she saw that his hands were not quite human, were in some way reminiscent of cloven hooves. She too remembered having had some difficulty getting the clasp open one handed at the store, but not as much as he was having. Finally, the goat devil stopped trying to be smooth and focused all his attention at getting the bag open. With two hands, he was barely able to manage it. Successful, he peered inside, shifting through a few items before finding what he wanted.
“I had that in suede,” the runner said, admiring how the well the strap rode on such a muscular shoulder.
“What?” said the goat devil, momentarily distracted.
“That purse, they never should have stopped making it, fits everything you need.”
“It’s a man-bag,” the goat devil snorted. “They’re very popular in Europe.”
In his hand was a glass vial. He pulled the stopper with his teeth. It gave a satisfying pop as the pressure was released. White smoke fizzled from the opening. He let it breathe for a moment and then set it to her lips.
“Then why is it purple?” she asked, the drugs in her system making her dreamy.
“It was left out in the sun too long.”
“No way,” she laughed, “you could leave a bag like that out in the desert for a week and it still wouldn’t fade.”
“Shut up and drink this,” he grumbled. “We need you awake.”
“What?” she said, pressing her lips tight as the smell of it wafted into her sinuses.
“Drink it.”
The goat devil stuffed the end of the vial into her mouth and pushed her head back. Rough liquors ran down her throat. All the way into her gullet, it felt like molten metal was burning her insides. The more she struggled, the faster it ran until the goat devil cast the vial away. Glass shattered in the distance.
“That will chase the spiders away little missy,” the goat devil taunted, much to the delight of his fellows. “Now behave, you. We’ve got work to do and the night ain’t getting’ any blacker.”
As promised, her head began to clear. The difference was remarkable, as easy as waking from a dream. With every breath she was that much closer to her usual self. She didn’t even have a headache from whatever it was they had used to keep her compliant.
Of the abduction, she had no memory. She knew she had been out for a run. She had made it as far as the marina and was tackling the rock pile when a hole opened up beneath her. She remembered the sensation of falling; gravity like a bowling ball in her stomach, the primitive fear that no human ever really overcomes. She remembered nothing between then and waking to the sound of voices.
The goat devil and his companions were ignoring her. They had returned to their conversation. Their language was English, but thickly accented. With the occasional barnyard guffaw and the horrible echo of the room, it made what they were saying as difficult to understand as before.
Besides the bare chested goat devil, there were five others. Unlike their leader, they were dressed in robes that hid their true shape. The robes were a mishmash of colors and fabrics. They had been regular bathrobes once. Hoods had been sewed on but only half of them bothered to cover their heads. All of them had strands of cheap costume jewelry encircling their waists.
Down at her feet were white lines. The lines were only a few inches wide, just like the baselines on a ball diamond, but these lines were not made of chalk. The muddy floor would have soaked that up in moments. It looked like some kind of spray paint had been used. The lines radiated outward from where she sat. She followed them with her eyes, watching them crisscross and meet again at points. A candle holder was at each point.
That was what the demons had been, she realized. Not hellish imps come to torture her, but the flickering flames of candles. The wicks had been trimmed so the flames were inches in height. The little fires danced in time with the movement of the air, barely perceptible in the close quarters she found herself. It had all been her imagination.
Maybe not all, she told herself a moment later. There certainly was devilry at work here. There were five candles. Each candle was placed at the apex of a five pointed star. The star was encircled by a final line of white. She was sitting in the center of a pentagram.
Thoughts racing, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, focusing like she did each morning before her run. There were six of them, all large men. She would have to assume they were armed and sought to do her harm. What the goat head masks were for, she could not guess, except maybe that they imagined themselves some sort of practitioners of the satanic arts.
They finished their conversation. Their echoes faded to nothing.
The runner watched them as they walked single file into the darkness. The candlelight didn’t allow her to see far beyond the circle where everything else was utter blackness. Soon there wasn’t even a flash of reflected light from their costume jewelry. There was no way to know how far they had gone, but she could still hear them moving around.
A flashlight was turned on. It wasn’t so close that she could see what they were doing, maybe ten or fifteen feet away. They seemed to be standing in a half circle looking at something on the floor. Their backs were to her. Someone opened a chest. The hinges creaked. Tools clanked dully against each other as they were taken out and distributed. A great deal more went on that she couldn’t make sense of.
Flashlight leading the way, the men started back toward her. The first carried a wooden stand, what might have been a pulpit in a church once. The wood was hacked up and defaced. Rude scrawls marred its surface. Any nobility had been sullied long ago. They set the stand down in front of her, making sure it was level on the ground before the next goat-man came along and placed four tablets upon it, stained dark as night.
This she had almost expected from her memories of Hollywood horror movies, novels that spoke little of history in their ancient rituals. What came next surprised her. A large bowl was set on the ground and filled with water. Next were added soap and a sponge.
“No thank you, I’m fine. I showered yesterday,” the runner said, her voice shaking, not nearly as confident as she wanted to sound.
The goat devil, the leader, only laughed an insane, Billy-goat laugh. A pair of scissors was in his hand. He opened and shut the blades. The sound was like the scraping of a butcher’s cleaver on a sharpening stone.
One of the goat-men, his robes less dingy and more colorful than the others, began reading from the tablets. It was no language the runner understood. The others backed away, giving their leader plenty of room for his work. The goat devil stepped over the circle, avoiding the crossing lines of the pentagram as he approached her.
“No” the runner screamed, toppling herself backward in her chair.
“Stop that nonsense,” the goat devil said, “or I’ll carves you up good just for the sport.”
“You there,” the goat devil said, jerking his head. “Pick her up and make sure she ain’t go nowheres, got it?”
“Got it boss,” one of the two replied.
The runner felt herself lifted and set upright. A goat-man was at each side of her, holding onto the chair. There was nothing she could do. The goat devil laughed and slipped a single finger under the leg of her running shorts. The silken fabric lifted like skin. He opened the blades of the scissors, sliding cold steel up her thigh.
There was a loud bang from the far side of the room. The goat devil froze. He barked an order and the reading of the incantation stopped. There was another bang, louder than the first. The goat devil stood, carefully making his way out of the pentagram and toward the noise.
The two remaining goat-men took the opportunity to draw their weapons. They had short swords, clumsy things that might have been made from lawnmower blades. With their leader, they made their way toward the sound.
“Open up,” the goat devil commanded.
The runner could tell he was in no mood for argument, and hoped to gain some advantage by being compliant, so she opened her mouth. A waded up rag, not entirely foul, was unceremoniously shoved in her mouth. Not entirely unexpected, the gag came next.
“Trouble boss?” one of the goat-men asked.
“Ain’t no one knows about this here place,” the goat devil replied. “But if they is, I tell you they’s find they get more than they bargained for.”
Something large, either a rock or a door, was rolled away. Light as bright as the sun flooded the chamber. The goat-men and their leader howled and shielded their eyes with their hands. The runner could not cover her eyes and even squinting she couldn’t see much at first.
The goat-men were arguing amongst themselves. They were talking fast and their accents were growing more pronounced. She couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it seemed they were not expecting this. Remembering countless police dramas, her lips curled into a smile. Perhaps she had not been as alone that morning as she had thought. Perhaps time had run short for the goat-men and their games.
Now that her eyes were beginning to adjust to the light, she could see she was in a small room. The walls and ceiling were a poorly constructed combination of rocks and timbers. The area in which she sat was only thirty feet across, though the dimensions were irregular to say the least. The back of the chamber where the chest had been was only a small niche in the wall. The tunnel at the far end where sun was shining was maybe ten feet long.
“Time’s up, fun’s over,” a voice called into the cave. It was a man’s voice, clear and confident.
The runner was expecting something more along the lines of, “Freeze, police.” She strained to look down the tunnel, but there was nothing to see.
“Who’s that?” called the goat devil.
“Yeah,” said one of the goat-men, “come on out so we can see you.”
“But I’m standing right in front of you,” said the voice, seeming to be very close but coming from every direction at once. “I have nothing to hide.”
The goat-men looked about them, frantically searching, bleating comments back and forth. One of them spotted something and pointed excitedly at a spot on the floor. There seemed to be a thin shadow on the muddy ground, but nothing more. No one was standing there.
The runner barely had time to recognize what she saw before the two goat-men reacted. They threw themselves forward, swinging their swords down upon the empty air. Acting like they had expected to hit something, they stumbled when they missed, knocking each other into a heap on the ground. One of them had broken his sword in the fall.
A man appeared, leaning casually against the wall opposite them. The light must have kept them from seeing him as it had her. The man didn’t look like a police officer. He had long, curly hair, jeans, and a black t-shirt with the logo of a metal band printed on the front. He was big; over six feet tall. His arms and chest bulged with muscles, even more than the goat devil.
The runner was hoping he might have a weapon of some sort, like a shotgun, but she couldn’t see that he was carrying anything. As far as recues went, this wasn’t going as well as she had hoped. Afraid, she sat quietly and waited for whatever would happen next. There was little else she could do.
“Guys, over here,” the man said.
“Tricky, tricky,” the goat devil snorted. “But we’ll see who’s got the laugh now. Me and my mates here will show you a thing or two.”
“Oh, well, if you plan to invite your friends, perhaps I should do the same?”
“Wait a minute. I knows who you are. You’re that Mitch, the new lord high and mighty of the World Below.”
“I prefer Interim Manager, thank you,” said Mitch. “And you are tin-can-eater or poops-on-the-lawn or something like that, right?”
“Oh, you may have killed Finkbeiner, but the way I heard it was a fluke. You ain’t got that Lady Elizabeth and her faerie magic with you now.” He stroked the edge of his sword. “Time to get down to a little slice and dice.”
“No, you’re right. She’s at work, but she wanted me to send her apologies. A few buddies of mine came along. If you want to fight, we might as well get things started.”
Mitch gave a whistle. “Gentlemen, time to go to work.”
Small shapes appeared at the end of the tunnel. Cats, immediately recognizable, trotted in. They were all shapes and sizes, big ones, little ones, fat ones, thin ones. There must have been a dozen of them. The cave filled with the sound of their mewing. They crowded the floor, surrounding Mitch, raising their hackles and hissing if the goat-men got too close.
“What’s this?” laughed the goat devil. “You got to be joking.”
One of the cats left the others, lazily making its way toward the runner. It was a healthy looking creature, plump; its fur was well tended. The eyes were strange. It had yellow eyes that seemed to shine in the dark, unlike any cat eyes she had ever seen before.
“No, no, I’m very serious.” Mitch cleared his throat and went on, “You are hereby ordered to desist from these activities of blood sacrifice and heinous ritual. Release the prisoner and banish yourselves to a distance of not less than five hundred miles from this place and you will not be harmed.”
The goat devil roared with laughter. “By you and your little kitty cats? How frightening,” he said mockingly.
One of the cats standing near Mitch began to change. It stood on its hind legs, growing taller and thicker in the body. Its front paws turned into hands. Its fur became a leather vest. When the transformation was complete, the creature stood about knee high on Mitch. It looked like an overgrown toad. With the scrape of metal, the toad drew a long bladed knife.
That gave the goat-men pause. They weren’t laughing anymore.
“Rat guts and zombie puss,” the toad swore, exasperated. “Mitch, what you got to learn is hows it is to talk to folks. I means, deal wit’ them in a more construction-like manner. All them there fancy words does nuttin’ but confuse the likes of them. They ain’t seen the inside of a toilet, no less a magazine to wipe their bottoms with. You got to talk on their level, see eye to eye if you know what I mean.”
“Well said, Thudrott,” Mitch told the toad. “Demonstrate if you please.”
“All right you ruddy nanny goats, get the hell out of here or I’ll rip your bleedin’ heads off, got it?”
“Now here’s what we call the dip-lo-matic part,” Thudrott confided to Mitch in a whisper that was loud enough for everyone in the cavern to hear. He cleared his throat noisily. “You rotten finks talk it over, right? You got five minutes to get your water buckets and take off. Right?”
“Nice touch about the buckets, real compassionate,” Mitch replied, nodding. “Hey, Gullysack, how’s the girl?”
“She’s pretty,” said the cat in a high-pitched, whining sort of voice.
Still in the shape of a cat, this Gullysack leaped up on a nearby rock so it could look the runner face to face. Then it too changed. It was another one of the toad creatures. Only this one wore the loudest Hawaiian shirt the runner had ever seen and cargo shorts that were as long as pants on its stubby legs. Gullysack looked her over like men did when they were drunk. It gave her the creeps.
“No, I mean, is she hurt?” Mitch called out.
“She sure looks good to me,” said Gullysack lasciviously.
“Oh, you can’t trust that one wit’ nuttin’,” Thudrott complained. “Not a brain in his head most of the times.”
The toad waddled a step or two closer to the pentagram where the runner sat. Peering down his long nose, he said in appreciation, “Would you look at the cans on that junk pile.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think they’re real,” Gullysack said.
“Naw, that’s just ‘cause she’s wearin’ one of them sports bras.”
“How about, lady. Are they real? Huh? Are they? Huh?”
Mitch interrupted, “Guys, come on. You can argue about that later. Is she hurt or not?”
“Naw, they ain’t even stripped her nekked yet,” Thudrott said, disappointed. “So, technically, we shouldn’t even be here. What do you say we come back in five or ten minutes?”
“No, I think we know what’s going on here,” said Mitch.
“What? I just want it legal and all. That’s what you tell us, got to do things on the up and up or we ain’t no better than the rest of the scum.”
“Yeah, wouldn’t want to be unfair,” Gullysack agreed. “We wouldn’t even have to go nowheres. We could stay and watch real close and maybe even help out a little with the washing part and make sure it really is going to be a sacrifice and then put a stop to it when we know for sure. Wouldn’t that be the right thing to do? Huh? Wouldn’t it?”
“Seems logical to me,” Thudrott said, nodding his head.
Exasperated, Mitch said, “Guys, come on, get it together, would you? This is serious.”
While Mitch and his toad friends were arguing, the goat-men began reorganizing. At an almost imperceptible pace, they gathered together near the tablet stand. They each managed to find a weapon and were quickly ready to fight. The goat devil began giving orders with a clever tilt of his head. He and the two from before had weapons hidden behind their backs and were beginning to make their way closer to Mitch. Three others began a flanking move. The goat-man with the brightly colored robes who had been reading the tablets was slowly inching up to Gullysack from behind. Still, the would-be rescuers continued quarreling amongst themselves.
Seemingly unnoticed, the goat-man in the colored robes was almost right behind the little toad. The runner felt terrible for the little guy, even though he was a letch. She tried to get his attention, mumbling as best she could through the gag and shooting her eyes back and forth. Gullysack took notice, but just gave her a flirty wink in response.
“I don’t really mind if they’re not real,” Gullysack assured her. “You can’t help what you were born with and I admire people who are into self-improvement, especially with something as worthwhile and important as that. I mean, look at you. Huh? Look at you. Those big old bazumbas of yours really make the whole package. Now, if you only had a little up top, even though only a mouthful is really all a guy needs, what a disappointed that would be. So, you know, if they are fake, you made a good decision getting that taken care of before the rest of your body went to pot.”
The runner jerked her head in the general direction of the goat-man in colored robes, trying to turn Gullysack’s attentions away from her chest. It did no good.
Thinking he was making progress, Gullysack leaned toward her, putting a hand to his chin in an entirely unattractive manner and went on, “As long as they did a good job, that is. The real problem is that they should be soft. When they’re hard as rocks it’s no fun for anyone. Things have gotten better in the last few years, but those saline bags got nothin’ on good old fashioned silicone.”
“Behind you, look out,” the runner tried to say through the gag. It came out as a jumble.
It was too late. The goat-man in colored robes was within striking distance. He wasted no time, raising an axe over his head, ready to come down with a crushing deathblow.
A figure appeared from nowhere. It was another of the toad creatures. He was wearing a plaid shirt. A belt with many pouches and unfathomable gizmos was cinched around his middle. Nerd glasses hung on his face, taped in the appropriate locations.
The goat-man in colored robes was startled by this new toad’s appearance. He flinched, pulling the axe back so he could defend himself. He didn’t have a chance. The new toad creature pulled what looked to be a meat fork from his belt. A cord ran from the handle and there was a switch, which the toad creature flicked with a stubby finger. Electricity crackled to life between the tines of the fork, spreading in a wide arc.
The toad creature made a savage lunge, driving the fork into the goat-man’s crotch. The goat-man in colored robes screamed. His goat face turned red. His body shook. The axe fell to the ground. The goat-man began to wail; his limbs totally out of control. Next moment, his entire body exploded like a water balloon, splashing what looked like crude oil everywhere. Some of it landed on the runner. She turned away in disgust. Just as quickly, the black slime began to melt away into nothingness.
“Thanks, Glitch,” Gullysack said in an offhand way; hardly acknowledging his life had just been saved.
The toad creature called Glitch put the fork away. He nodded and turned invisible again.
“Now, what do you think you’re trying to pull?” Mitch demanded of the goat-men.
Weapons in hand, coming almost close enough to Mitch and the cats that they could attack, the goat-men froze. They looked one to another, trying to get some sign from their leader. The goat devil was as dumbfounded as the rest. He stood gaping at Mitch stupidly.
“We came here in good faith, opening civilized negotiations, giving you a chance to renounce what you have done and redeem yourselves.”
Mitch was no longer leaning against the wall. He was standing, hands on his hips, in the middle of the tunnel. From his easy manner, the runner had not expected the man capable of a reaction like this.
“And to pay us back for a little law and order you try to slice and dice one of my crew?”
“Tolds ya’ they’s nuffin’ but scum,” Thudrott said. “Not an inch of respect in all them nanny goats combined, I’d say.”
“Thudrott, you’re right again. I should have listened,” Mitch sighed. “So what now?”
“Rip they lungs out.”
“Let’s do it.”
With that, all the cats changed into toad creatures. The three goat-men that had been moving into a flanking position had their feet pushed out from under them. All three went crashing to the ground, landing hard on their backs. Glitch in his plaid shirt and two more of the toad creatures appeared, laughing. One of the toad creatures quickly gathered up the goat-men’s weapons and waddled back to the group while the others made threatening moves with knives and other weapons.
“What a bunch of idiots,” said the new toad creature. He held up a sword. “Hey, would you take a look at this, pretty.”
“What’s that, Puttygut?” said Thudrott.
“Found a replacement for Old Lockjaw. Take a look. Pearl handle and everything. Nice to snag a bit of treasure on a bad job. With the looks of things around here, I didn’t think they’d have two pennies to rub together.” Puttygut offered up the sword for inspection. “Want it? Felt naked not having some major hardware lying around myself.”
“Yep, I hears what you’re sayin’,” Thudrott replied. He looked the handle and blade over appreciatively. “Real Cavalry sword, great condition, what must have come from some collection.”
The goat devil stared dumbstruck. Though defeated, he wasn’t ready to give up.
“Right of Combat,” said the goat devil, quietly at first, as if an afterthought or perhaps that he cared not for that alternative either. “I demand the Right of Combat.”
Walking up to the goat devil, Mitch said, “This isn’t about you and me. This is about law and order. I’m not here to get into a pissing contest.”
More confident now, thinking that he had perhaps found the advantage he was looking for, the goat devil said, “The old ways are law. I demand the Right of Combat.”
“Well, I think what he may have a point and all,” Thudrott said, scratching his noggin.
“If the nanny goat claims the Right of Combat, I say give it to him and be done,” Puttygut agreed.
“Yeah, come on, afraid now you’re girlfriend ain’t here?” the goat devil sneered. “Come on little boy, I’ll teach you a lesson.”
“Sticks and stones,” Mitch said to the goat devil. To the toads, he said, “I’m trying to be merciful. Turning him into a pool of thirty-weight isn’t very merciful.”
“Price of leadership,” Thudrott said with a shrug. “Besides, it’s his choice.”
“Oh, are you afraid?” the goat devil taunted. He and his cronies were laughing. “Miss your little girlie friend?”
“I do feel like shutting him up,” Mitch confided.
“Been more than fair and ain’t none what can say otherwise,” Thudrott said, egging him on. “Ain’t that so?”
The toad creatures all heartily agreed. They began chanting expletives of every color and sort.
“Right of Combat it is,” Mitch decided, looking the goat devil in the eye.
“No tricks,” the goat devil said.
“Yeah, okay.”
At that moment, Mitch disappeared. He reappeared a moment later, leaning casually against the wall where he had always been. It had all been an illusion. The toad creatures laughed and applauded in appreciation.
“You got him good with that one,” Puttygut said, patting Mitch on the leg. “Couldn’t have done it better myself.”
“Clear the way, gentlemen,” Mitch said, walking toward the goat devil.
With a flick of his wrist, a sword was in his hand. It was short and broad. The blade was so black that he seemed to be holding a sliver of midnight. Mitch walked within striking distance and raised the blade up and down to indicate he was ready.
The goat devil had managed to get a spear with a long point. He took a step back, using the spear’s length to his best advantage. In the close quarters, he would have an easy time defending himself. Holding the spear in both hands, he faked a lunge, going high at first, but driving the spear point toward Mitch’s belly.
Stepping in, Mitch cut the spear handle in half with one smooth sweep of his arm and curved round to slice off the goat devil’s left horn. The goat devil jumped back in surprise. He looked at the severed horn lying in the mud; already dissolving into the black sludge that wicked creatures like him are made of. In moments it became nothing but black smoke.
“We can stop now,” Mitch said.
The goat devil had no intention of stopping. He tossed the useless end of the spear away. The other half of the spear in his hand, he charged forward. As he closed on Mitch, the goat devil brought his hand down, using the spear more like a club, aiming at his opponent’s head. Mitch dodged out of the way, but there was a knife in the goat devil’s other hand and he jabbed it toward Mitch’s guts. Bringing his sword up, Mitch knocked the spear away, swung back to block the knife but severed the goat devil’s right arm instead. The goat devil grabbed his arm and cursed.
“I believe that satisfies the Right of Combat,” Mitch said. “Now, you are under arrest. Return with us to the World Below and we’ll get you some medical attention.”
“Never!” shouted the goat devil, lunging toward him.
Mitch could not get out of the way fast enough. The goat devil rammed into Mitch at full speed and impaled himself on the sword. Mitch landed on his back with the goat devil on top of him. The creature began changing, his body turning to black jelly.
“Be at peace, then,” said Mitch. He stood up and tried to rid himself of as much of the sludge and mud as he could. “Yuck, and these were my only clean pants. Okay, how about the rest of you? You want a fight?”
The goat-men looked from one to the other. They seemed unable to decide.
Finally, one spoke up, saying, “We surrender.”
“Good choice,” said Mitch. “Gentlemen, hog tie them please. Sorry, but it’s going to be more work for you than I thought. We can’t exactly rely on their honor, can we? I’ll get some beer to go with that pizza.”
The promise was met with cheers. The toad creatures immediately set to work. The goat-men were pushed into the mud, their hands and feet held together by two or more toad creatures as another wrapped their limbs with thick rope.
“Gullysack, how’s the woman?” Mitch asked.
“Looking fine as ever,” said Gullysack, his eyes once again appraising the runner’s body like meat.
“Good, just keep her occupied while we finish things up, okay?”
“You got it, Mitch.”
The excitement over, Gullysack returned his attentions to the runner. He hopped off the rock he had been sitting on and swaggered over, making eyes at her the entire way.
“Though I can hang with the rest of the crew if I have to, I’m more of a lover than a fighter,” Gullysack explained. “But don’t you worry, baby. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
With hardly a downward glance, Gullysack deftly avoided stepping on the lines of the pentagram. He began looking at how she was tied to the chair, testing the strength of her bonds with a disapproving ‘tsk’.
“Bet this is all pretty crazy,” Gullysack confided, not removing the gag so the runner could respond. He made his voice low and smooth. “Bet you can’t make heads or tails of none of this. Poor baby, you’re probably scared out of your wits. You must think you’re in a loony bin somewhere, or ought to be.”
Bending down to look at her legs, he went on in the pimp voice, “And after a fright like this, a girl might think that there is some kind of debt to be paid.”
The toad thing looked up at her from between her thighs, winked, and said, “Well, you know, we goblin-hero-types live a tough life. A little lovin’ goes a long way. You may not think that you’re up to my usual standards, and you’re right about that, but I feel like you and I made a deeper sort of emotional connection today.”
He began stroking the naked flesh of her ankles, moving his way up her legs as he spoke. The runner flinched at the touch. She tried to move her legs to make him stop, but she was so tightly bound that she could do very little to discourage his explorations.
“Mitch, Mitch!” she screamed through her gag, thinking she had gone from a bad situation to one that was much worse. Her pleas brought no rescue. Mitch and the others were too busy taking care of the goat-men.
“So what do you say, baby? Huh? Ready for a little monkey sex?”
“No, uh uh,” the runner said, throwing her head back and forth. “No way.”
“What? No? Shy? Don’t worry, I’ll take things slow.”
“No!” she screamed, feeling his hands on her wrists.
The next moment she was free. The bonds had all been cut. Her gag and even the rag that had been stuck in her mouth were gone. Surprised, she looked around, expecting Gullysack to jump her bones at any minute but he was nowhere to be seen. Like the other toad creatures and the goat-men, he was gone. The only one left was Mitch.
“You have been through quite an experience,” said Mitch. “If it means anything, your attackers will receive justice. Otherwise, maybe you should just forget about everything you saw. We could do something about your memory, but you’d be missing time and still have flashbacks, and I understand that makes everything worse.”
“Okay,” the runner began weakly, still feeling confused about everything that had happened. “If you think it’s best.”
Moving around the pentagram, Mitch blew out each of the candles. When that was done, he kicked in the outer ring and broke a few of the points of the star. It was quiet and lonely and the runner was beginning to worry that Mitch had something else on his mind. Except for the light at the far end of the tunnel, it was dark. She had never gotten a good look at his face, what with the action and all the hair, and even now with him right next to her, she couldn’t see what he looked like.
“Take my hand now. Don’t fall. Your legs might be a little wobbly.”
She took his hand gratefully. He had more a paw than a hand. The skin was rough and the muscles were thick. He was someone used to menial labor. He led her across the ruin of the pentagram to the tunnel.
“Okay?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Think you can get back to your car?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“We’ll keep an eye on you all the same. Just walk to the end of the tunnel and this nightmare will all be over.”
“Okay, well, thank you.” She hugged him.
“You’re welcome. Go on now.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
“Never, and you’ll never again see any of my people either.”
“No? That’s good, actually.”
“That’s the way it should be.”
Taking a single step toward the end of the tunnel, she found herself outside. She was standing on the beach looking out over the bay. Behind her was the rock pile. There was no opening; just a pile of rocks. Everything was as it had been a hundred days before.
Slightly confused, she decided she had better finish her run and get to work. People were already setting up their spots on the beach. The sun was almost midway across the sky. Her muscles were cold and her body was sore so she decided to walk. As she turned from the rock pile, she looked back and decided to go another way.
End of Excerpt


Now here is a related short story!


C:\Users\Mike\Documents\A Phillips 2015-08-01\CA Novel Manuscripts\Chronicles of the GOBLIN KING\GK01 WORLD BELOW -Chronicals of the Goblin King I\WB_ARTWORK\TheWorldBelow_150dpi_eBook.jpgC:\Users\Mike\Documents\A Phillips 2015-08-01\CA Novel Manuscripts\Chronicles of the GOBLIN KING\GK02 HAZARD of SHADOWS -Chronicals of the Goblin King II\2015 GK02_HS Promotions\HazardofShadows_CoverArt.jpg
 
The Sweet Rewards of Skullduggery

Chronicles of the Goblin King

This story takes place between The World Below and Hazard of Shadows.


By Mike Phillips
3,200 Words

For all the boasting and bluster, the goblins didn’t know their way around the World Below half as well as they thought they did. They might know where to find great trash heaps to hide behind while consuming a stolen meal. They might know where to answer the call of nature without having some angry property owner crack them on the skull. They might even know where to find a pen or pencil any time they needed it, as near a thing to magic as fairy dust and dragon fire. But for all that, the rapidity in which they became lost in their own back yard was boggling to the mind.
“Maybe we should go back,” Mitch Hardy suggested to his goblin friends as he looked for any sign of the familiar. The comment brought a hush as profound as the grave. “Come on, I was just thinking it might be quicker.”
The clarification did little to bring favor from the crew, four of the oddest little monsters in all of creation. They were goblins, one of the few enchanted creatures of any kind left on earth, what they referred to as the World of Men. The goblins were possessed with magical talents both strange and terrible. Unfortunately, a good sense of direction wasn’t one of them.
The biggest and angriest of the group, a goblin named Thudrott, opened his exceptionally wide mouth but failed to speak, so reflective was his disgust. Instead, he bit his lip and stamped first one foot then the other, looking more peeved by the second. He and the others assumed Mitch was going to suggest they ask for directions, a sinful act to their way of thinking.
All the goblins were about knee high. When not disguising themselves as stray cats or other small, more socially acceptable creatures, they looked like overgrown toads. They had big ears and long noses, squat little bodies that would have landed somewhere between a daydream and a nightmare for any toy maker. At that moment, their annoyance rising, the effect was anything but cute.
“Unlike you guys, I haven’t had anything to eat since lunch,” Mitch answered the silent question. His best human friend sold hotdogs from a cart on the street and always shared the leftovers with Mitch.
“Snakes in a drainpipe,” Thudrott grumbled. “That’s because you’re so darn pickity-packity all the blazin’ time. Hold your nose and belly up is what I say.”
“Yeah, those eggrolls weren’t really all that bad, huh,” Gullysack said. He wore cargo shorts and a Hawaiian shirt that featured three naked ladies and a dead kangaroo on the back. “Only a little mushy on the underside and must be three days fresh, huh. Don’t get much better than that, huh, not for my money.”
“You ain’t got two pennies to throw at cockroach,” Thudrott growled. “So what’s all this talk about cash on the pin-head anyway?”
“Two for one night at Pasano’s,” Mitch replied, shutting them up. It was without argument the best pizza for miles –and goblins like to argue more than they like to eat.
“Well, why’s it you’re standin’ around, gaping like some half dead elephant?” Thudrott roared. He turned abruptly on his heel and stamped off, crashing right into Glitch and knocking the littlest goblin flat on the ground.
“Ah, now look what ya’ did.” Thudrott held out a hand in an offer to aid his fallen comrade. “Sorry, Glitch, I was in such a head of steam I ain’t seen you there.”
Glitch favored flannel shirts in plaid. Sometimes he even wore pants. He always had an old rucksack slung over a shoulder and any number of gadgets hung from his belt. He held out a hand so Thudrott could help him to his feet.
The moment their hands touched, Thudrott screamed in pain. What little hair there was on his body stood on end. He continued making desperate, pained noises as bright sparks arced between Glitch’s palm and his own.
Smoke rolled out of Thudrott’s ears and nose before Glitch finally let him go. The little goblin adjusted a metal object in his palm, what looked to Mitch like a standard joy buzzer, and stood, properly avenged for the insult done to his honor.
Shaking it off, Thudrott hocked a handful of slime green snot into his palm and slicked back his hair, not forgetting where it stuck up in back. “So you ninny-hammers gonna stand around all night or what?”
****
A change in direction did little to improve their fortunes. The World Below was one of the few remaining refuges for enchanted creatures of all kinds. As such, it was a labyrinthine mess of tunnels and caverns, little villages and homesteads built under the human city and Traverse Bay. The people of the World Below survived as best they could on what they produced themselves and on what human society threw away, which if not luxurious, was comfortable for most.
Mitch became romantically involved with one of the Elder Race, a young princess of the Faerie Folk. By happenstance, he made friends with a crew of goblins in the process, an accident that saved his life on more than one occasion. With the goblins behind him and lots of new friends, Mitch led a revolt against the despotic ruler of the World Below, the Dragon of Worms, Baron Finkbeiner, and was now in charge of keeping law and order for the citizens he liberated.
The five of them were on their way back to Mitch’s apartment after holding court. It had been a long evening of listening to complaints and rendering decisions, but Mitch felt good about bringing some fairness into the lives of the citizens. He was hungry and tired and missed out on a whole evening of making money, but proud of what he accomplished.
Mitch and the crew found themselves in a small cavern, the walls covered in a thin veneer that gave off a soft glow. There were a few dozen homes and storage barns, hardly better than shacks, organized into what passed as a neighborhood. A barrier of rusted car parts and scrap iron was arranged at the perimeter of the village as a defense, but the gate was open and no guard was posted.
“This looks familiar,” announced the fourth goblin. He wasn’t even scratching his backside as if to think. This fact gave Mitch hope.
The goblin’s name was Puttygut. He was a doctor and apothecary and sorcerer and, if not exactly wise, had much better sense than the others. Mitch trusted his judgment in all matters that didn’t have to do with food, morality, business, music, women, police and other governmental officials, or common sense.
“Finding your way out of a place is always harder than finding a way in, especially to a bad place.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Thudrott agreed.
“Year or two maybe it was when I passed here last.” He picked his long nose in thoughtful consideration.
“Think it’s the only way what we ain’t tried.”
“Some rotten finks in this place, though. Look out. That’s why they don’t need to post a watch, I’d be willing to bet.”
“Trouble?” Mitch asked, thinking about the magical gifts of protection his girlfriend, the Lady Elizabeth, had given him. “Something we need to take care of, like those orcs?”
“Naw, I don’t think they cause any trouble on their own, not if folk don’t come bringing it to their door.”
“As fine and friendly a folk as we are,” Thudrott agreed.
“That bad, huh?” Mitch asked, and he meant it. Goblins had a terrible reputation, his crew the worst of the lot. From what he was able to gather, the reputation was deserved. Why they had ever decided to befriend him and change their ways was beyond his ability to comprehend. “Nothing to mess with, but they don’t cause trouble.”
Puttygut said, “Don’t rightly know. They’re a quiet bunch, keep to themselves, mostly. Can’t say exactly what sort of folk they are. But the way home leads shortest through their town. Might be a tunnel on the other end. I was thinking we should be headed back about now.”
“Seems safe enough if we’re quick and quiet. Let’s try it.”
“Right, what’s the worst that could happen?”
****
Into the village they went. There seemed an undercurrent of noise, an indefinable hubbub, generally behind closed doors and out of sight, but enough to have the goblins on edge. Mitch felt it too, but to him it was encouraging. If the folk were busy inside, it was all the more likely he and the goblins could pass through town unnoticed.
 The road made a sweeping turn around the largest of the shacks, a place that looked the most defensible of the structures he had seen, like a holdfast or small keep. Currently, the place was cold as ice, but Mitch knew there must be any number of secret ways inside if trouble arose.
Half way around the keep, a footpath went by a fenced yard holding a pair of goats. On the far side of the fence, two dark figures stood, deep in conversation. Mitch and the goblins traded glances. It would be best to slip by unnoticed. Even the friendliest of monsters could be defensive in the late hours of the night.
Without warning, one of the figures looked up. It pointed toward the crew and squealed in fear. The two sped off in opposite directions.
“Jig is up,” Puttygut announced, stirring Mitch into action. “Let’s go.”
“Got the big one,” Thudrott said, leading Gullysack and Glitch around the backside of the goat pen.
“Got the basket,” Puttygut confirmed, meaning the other person who was carrying a rather large basket.
As Mitch ran after Puttygut, he lost sight of the others as they turned down some dark alley. “What are we chasing them for?” Mitch asked between labored breaths, though his stride gave him a distinct advantage over the goblins.
“Because they’re running,” Puttygut replied.
“What? That’s stupid.”
“Need to find out why,” he pumped his legs in his awkward gate, zipping round a fence post. A sleeping goat was tied with a short rope. “Could be nothing, but could be trouble. Best to do it to them before they do it to us.”
“Yes, that makes perfect sense,” Mitch said dryly.
“Who better than goblins to know when folk are up to no good?”
“Can’t argue with logic like that.”
Another turn brought them between two buildings, candlelight flickering behind the fabric covered windows. Having lost sight of the person with the basket, they walked slowly and carefully, searching as they went.
“Smells like blasted goats all over,” Puttygut complained, sniffing. “Can’t smell nothing but stupid goats.”
“Shut up!” a gruff voice shouted from one of the dark windows, the unmistakable pump of a shell into the chamber of a twelve gage shotgun punctuating his request.
“Could be silver,” Puttygut said, thoughtfully brushing a grotesque scar on the back of his thigh. “It’s been known to happen from time to time.”
“Sorry,” Mitch whispered to the man, “wrong turn. We’re going.”
The man grumbled something unintelligible as Mitch and Puttygut slipped around the corner. Of all things, they met Thudrott and the others. They were on an avenue wide enough to allow a single automobile to pass, if it was a slick European model and not some big, American SUV.
The avenue was quiet, but even Mitch could feel eyes upon him. This was a protected place, as safe for its inhabitants as a military complex. Any sort of creature could, at that moment, be preparing a magic spell or aiming a weapon. The thought chilled him. They kept moving, all but forgetting their pursuit.
****
Another wrong turn brought them into a dark alley between long sheds. A large house was at the far end. It had a front yard and a broad porch. A picket fence surrounded the property. The place might have fit nicely into any suburban neighborhood. Every window was lit with electric light. Sounds of conversation and laughter escaped from inside. Muddy footprints were on the steps.
“Wipe your little feeties clean before swing-set dancin’ into a swanky, swanky pad like that,” Thudrott said in a low voice, confirming the intuition of all. “Let’s see what’s round back.”
“Could be a party, huh?” Gullysack said. He sniffed. “Smells sweet, like they’re cooking up some potion, huh. What do you think, huh? Some potion?”
“They’re cooking up something all right,” Puttygut agreed. Rubbing his long nose, he suggested to Mitch, “Might be something we should look into, if we were on the clock and all.”
“You think, huh,” Mitch replied, knowing he answer. It was clear the person with the basket had gone this way and something suspicious was going on. “Me too.”
Using the goblin gift of magic, they turned themselves invisible. When he was with the crew, using their aid and support, Mitch was able to do it too. Each time, the process got easier and easier. Focusing on his intent, what he wanted to accomplish, was more important than the trivial problems of bending light waves and altering matter. He marveled as he could no longer see his hand in front of his face, but there was no time to waste, they needed to find out what was going on.
Splitting up, Mitch and Puttygut went around the left side of the house while the others went to the right. Gullysack found a wooden trellis and quickly shimmied up to the roof before Mitch lost track of him. A path led over a moss covered side lawn. Mitch and Puttygut followed the path, ducking down to pass unnoticed under a bathroom window as someone flushed the toilet.
Out back, the picket fence continued along the property line. Perhaps twenty people were milling about, all shapes and sizes, some big and some little, but what sort of creatures they were looking at was hard to tell in the flickering light and bustling activity. The commotion was centered around a huge bonfire, a pot big enough to boil two full grown men into soup was frothing and bubbling on a metal grate atop the flames.
With the speed and efficiency of any covert operations team, Mitch and the goblins spread out around the fence, taking positon and trying to get a handle on what was happening. The backdoor swung open and out stepped a small figure holding a basket, the same person they had chased through the streets.
She was a pretty girl with a great mane of long, brown hair and softly rounded features. Fur covered legs flashed demurely from under the cover of a brightly printed sundress. She was a faun, not more than in her teens if Mitch were any judge, but the magical creatures were often deceiving in that way. She could be hundreds of years old.
“There you are darling,” called a voice from near the pot.
To call the voice gravelly would have been to call a quarry a clay pit. The woman’s voice cracked and rolled like an avalanche; but for all that, Mitch thought he sensed kindness and concern. She had more than a little troll blood, which was readily apparent, for she was tall as a house with scaly skin and scraggly hair. What else might lie within her ancestry was hard to figure.
“What took you so long?” Her voice dropped. “Oh, dear, you’re crying. What’s the matter? That little shyster didn’t try to cheat you, did he?”
“No, Grums,” the girl sweetly replied. “Some men chased me.”
“Oooooh, some men,” she wondered, “bad men?”
“Don’t know,” she sniffed, holding back tears.
The troll woman put a thick hand on the girl’s shoulder. Straightening the natural hunch in her back, when she stood tall she easily looked over the crowd. Her eyes shone with a blue light as she scanned the area. Mitch panicked, feeling not only that he was fully visible under the goblin magic but that she was seeing him naked. Her glance only rested on him for seconds before turning away.
“Was it them?” she asked, snapping her fingers.
In that instant, Mitch was no longer invisible. Neither was Puttygut. They were surrounded by guards before they could react, big men that might have been Grums’ grandsons. Across the yard, Thudrott and Glitch were putting up a fight, but they were quickly overwhelmed by the size and numbers of the guards.
“Snakes in a drainpipe!” Thudrott shouted. “Run you idiots!”
There was nowhere to run. There was no escape. They were caught.
“Get that little one off my roof before he puts a hole in it,” Grums rumbled.
The sneakiest of them all, even Gullysack was no match for her conjuring. He was as visible as the rest and frozen like a statue as he clung to a brick chimney, waiting for a handful of the more wiry guards to collect him.
“Now, what’s this all about?” Grums wondered as Mitch and the crew were assembled around her. “Chasing after my favorite girlie and busting up my party.”
“Madam, please accept my apologies, but my friends and I thought we witnessed some illegal act and were in pursuit of this young lady.”
“What’s that? Lawyer speak? Ain’t havin’ none of that. Talk plainer or you can go into the pot right now.”
Swallowing hard, Mitch contemplated the deadliest weapon in his arsenal, the mysterious Blade of Caro. With the Blade he would have no difficulties dealing with this woman and the entire town. Something held him back.
He said, “We thought something bad was going on so we checked it out.”
“Oh, and what gives you the right?”
“Well,” Mitch began slowly, not sure of his place in the World Below, “I am lord and protector of these parts.”
“Well, well, then.” A spark lit in her eyes, considering. “Ah ha, you’re that Mitch fella what kilt the Baron, ain’t cha?”
The goblins, less than subtle at the best of times, were emphatically shaking their heads and mouthing the word “No!” over and over again. It was a sign of how much time they were spending together that Mitch considered telling a lie. Knife edged fate was set in the balance. A wrong answer might mean death on both sides.
Instead, he admitted, “Yes.”
“Why didn’t you say so!” Grumma laughed, clapping her hands together. “Glad you could join the party.”
Taking the basket from the girl, she pulled out stalks of fresh rhubarb. She dropped the stalks into the pot. With a wooden spoon the size of a boat oar, she stirred the mix, saying, “Come, sit down, the harvest is in and we’re making jam, the best you ever et or I’m a garden lizard in a prom dress. I insist you stay and have a bite.”
The End